yadā te moha-kalilaḿ
tadā gantāsi nirvedaḿ
śrotavyasya śrutasya ca
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.52
When your intelligence has passed out of the dense forest of delusion, you shall become indifferent to all that has been heard and all that is to be heard.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
There are many good examples in the lives of the great devotees of the Lord of those who became indifferent to the rituals of the Vedas simply by devotional service to the Lord. When a person factually understands Krishna and his relationship with Krishna, he naturally becomes completely indifferent to the rituals of fruitive activities, even though an experienced brahmana. Sri Madhavendra Puri, a great devotee and acarya in the line of the devotees, says:
sandhya-vandana bhadram astu bhavato bhoh snana tubhyam namo
bho devah pitaras ca tarpana-vidhau naham ksamah ksamyatam
yatra kvapi nisadya yadava-kulottamasya kamsa-dvisah
smaram smaram agham harami tad alam manye kim anyena me
“O my prayers three times a day, all glory to you. O bathing, I offer my obeisances unto you. O demigods! O forefathers! Please excuse me for my inability to offer you my respects. Now wherever I sit, I can remember the great descendant of the Yadu dynasty [Krishna], the enemy of Kamsa, and thereby I can free myself from all sinful bondage. I think this is sufficient for me.”
The Vedic rites and rituals are imperative for neophytes: comprehending all kinds of prayer three times a day, taking a bath early in the morning, offering respects to the forefathers, etc. But when one is fully in Krishna consciousness and is engaged in His transcendental loving service, one becomes indifferent to all these regulative principles because he has already attained perfection. If one can reach the platform of understanding by service to the Supreme Lord Krishna, he has no longer to execute different types of penances and sacrifices as recommended in revealed scriptures. And, similarly, if one has not understood that the purpose of the Vedas is to reach Krishna and simply engages in the rituals, etc., then he is uselessly wasting time in such engagements. Persons in Krishna consciousness transcend the limit of shabda-brahma, or the range of the Vedas and Upanishads.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
From the performance of niskama karma yoga offered to the Supreme Lord, you will develop this neutrality (yoga). When your intelligence has surpassed particularly (vi) and completely (ati) the denseness of illusion, at that time you will become indifferent to all the subjects about which you will hear, and have already heard.
“By eliminating all that has been taught and will be taught in the future, then what is the use of my hearing instructions of scripture now?”
“By these instructions, you will at present consider that repetition in these practices must definitely be done at every moment.”
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.52 If you act in this manner and get freed from impurities, your intellect will pass beyond the tangle of delusion. The dense impurity of sin is the nature of that delusion which generates attachment to infinitesimal results, of which you have already heard much from us and will hear more later on. You will then immediately feel, of your own accord, renunciation or feeling of disgust for them all. Sri Krsna now teaches the goal called self-realisation (Yoga) which results from the performance of duty as taught in the passage beginning with ‘Now, listen to this with regard to Karma Yoga’ (2.39) which is based on the knowledge of the real nature of the self gained through the refinement of the mind.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
With genuine concern one may ask: When will I be able to attain that eternal and everlasting spiritual world? An important question but first one must successfully circumnavigate the maze of delusion in the material existence. When one has factually rejected the conception of identifying oneself as the physical body then one will by navigating oneself out of the maze of delusion successfully escape the net of illusion which is likened to a bottomless abyss. Therefore it should be understood that by surrendering all activities in righteousness unto the Supreme Lord Krishna through the auspices of disciplic succession, by His mercy the spiritual intelligence will naturally manifest within and one will begin to clearly comprehend that the physical body is distinctly separate from the individual consciousness. From this understanding one will attain indifference towards the activities that are heard about or that will be heard about. The desire to inquire about temporal things will cease as it will be perceived that only existing temporarily they are not worth pursuing. This is the meaning.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
To answer the query regarding what is essential for one aspiring for liberation the answer is given in this verse by Lord Krishna. The word nirvedam means indifferent, renunciation is not indicated here. Rather it is to be understood that by spiritual intelligence in the process of acquiring wisdom one becomes indifferent to mundane pursuits. It is not that one with spiritual intelligence is indifferent regarding the sublime activities of the Supreme Lord. Liberated sages immersed in the delight of the soul through their highly developed mental state advance onwards by devotion without any desires. Lord Krishna is very attracted to those following devotion possessing these attributes. The austerities and penance performed by Sukadeva and others give them immeasurable satisfaction and great happiness.
Those who meditate on the lotus feet of Lord Krishna relishing His glories and phenomenal pastimes and that of His devotees, they derive a greater satisfaction that is not even available to one fully realised. So needless to speak about the satisfaction of those in the heavenly realms who are forced to descend down to earth again once they have exhausted their benefits. For only those situated with the wisdom of spiritual intelligence can understand Lord Krishna’s paramount position and thus perform all actions accordingly.
Even in liberation there is taratamya gradation. If there were no gradation then men of wisdom could not realise the mercy of Lord Krishna’s divine grace which is the sole cause of liberation. In this way no one will desire similarity with Him. Even if it is offered it will not be accepted. Thus even those not desiring liberation receive it anyway as the result of devotion and those so desiring it, liberation comes manifesting auspiciousness. This auspiciousness manifests even though undesired. Just as those exalted devotees with special devotion to Lord Krishna receive special mercy at the end of their lives that can be perceived. In the same way dispensation is received by those situated in wisdom at the termination of the physical body. Other dispensation is given for the ascetics at the severance of their mortal coil and still those who experience supreme bliss with distinctive character as experienced. In all these different levels gradation always exists.
Liberation by whatever means is deliverance and in this no one can surpass one for one will be fully situated in the ultimate wisdom of devotion to Lord Krishna by spiritual intelligence. So in the matter of equilibrium it must be regarded in abundance as well as in experiencing misery. Even though abundance and misery must be regarded equally for the supreme bliss it is the realisation in wisdom by spiritual intelligence that is the key ingredient for liberation from the material existence as given in the Narayana Ashtaksha Kalpa. Hence renunciation is not indicated as a means of liberation in Vedic scriptures. There also does not exist any direction to other methods regarding liberation. Thus the understanding for this verse is that by listening to the potent words of great self-realised beings the true purport of the Vedas will be learned.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
If someone were to enquire that if they perform actions in the prescribed manner will indifference to worldly topics come quickly. Lord Krishna indicates that it is up to the individual by use of the word yada meaning when. There is no exact time. Whenever one spiritual intelligence revives itself and allows ones mind to cross over the gigantic dross and mud of mental delusion then and only then one will achieve indifference to all worldly objects that are worthy of hearing and yet to be heard and the rewards of actions in which to accomplish them as written in the Vedic scriptures for this world and the heavenly kingdoms.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.52 When is attained that wisdom which arises from the purification of the mind brought about by the pursuit of (karma-) yoga? This is being stated: Yada, when, [Yada: when maturity of discrimination is attained.] at the time when; te, your; buddhih, mind; vyatitarisyati, will go beyond, cross over; moha-kalilam, the turbidity of delusion, the dirt in the form of delusion, in the form of non-discrimination, which, after confounding one’s understanding about the distinction between the Self and the not-Self, impels the mind towards objects — that is to say, when your mind will attain the state of purity; tada, then, [Tada: then, when the mind, becoming purified, leads to the rise of discrimination, which in turn matures into detachment.] at that time; gantasi, you will acquire; nirvedam, despassion; for srotavyasya, what has to be heard; ca, and; srutasya, what has been heard. The idea implied is that, at that time what has to be heard and what has been heard [What has to be heard…has been heard, i.e. the scriptures other than those relating to Self-knowledge. When discrimination referred to above gets matured, then the fruitlessness of all things other than Self-knowledge becomes apparent.] becomes fruitless.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.52-53 Yada te etc. Sruti-etc. At the time, when the determining facult with regard to the Yoga is attained, the clear sign of recognizing it, is this : An attitude of futility about the revealed literature that has to be listened to, that has been listened to and that is being declared. What has been declared by the above is this : ‘This present view of yours about the ruination of your race is out of place and it is due to the influence of your deceptive notion, born of mental impressions created by your listening to the teachings of those scriptures that favour the observers who are fallen deep into the course of ignorance. But, that view shall vanish when the respect for such a teaching disappears.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
yada te moha-kalilam
tada gantasi nirvedam
srotavyasya srutasya ca
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
yadā — when; te — your; moha — of illusion; kalilam — dense forest; buddhiḥ — transcendental service with intelligence; vyatitariṣyati — surpasses; tadā — at that time; gantā asi — you shall go; nirvedam — callousness; śrotavyasya — toward all that is to be heard; śrutasya — all that is already heard; ca — also.